Ari Hest’s latest album, The Fire Plays is available now and features the songs “Set in Stone,” “Concrete Sky,” and “Winter of Yes.”
Check out his website for song samples and news!
Ari, graciously took time to answer questions about the album, his current tour and the inspiration behind his music.
Catch Ari Hest in Los Angeles on Friday, March 1 at the Hotel Café (8:30 pm, 21+, $15)
You’re resuming your tour in support of The Fire Plays this month, what can your LA audience expect from your performance? What has been the biggest surprise so far on this tour?
My LA show will be a duo where I’ll play piano or guitar and I’ll drummer Doug Yowell doing a variety of things. Between me covering bass lines in my guitar playing and Doug looping himself live, we wind up sounding like a lot more than two guys on stage. We’re up in the northwest right now and given the fact that we drive, eat, play and sleep in the same hotel room, the biggest surprise is we haven’t killed each other yet.
What did you learn about yourself as a musician while working on the songs for The Fire Plays
I learned about the power of recording a band live. People had told me that recording that way would yield a different kind of energy and they were right. When you’re reacting to each other on the fly it often gives the music more personality.
What was the first song you wrote for The Fire Plays? Which was the hardest to write?
The first was probably the last tune, “Something To Look Forward To”. I wrote it in LA actually. I didn’t think much of it at first but it grew on me with a few listens. I like to be a crooner at times. Maybe one day I’ll make an album of standards or something.
How did the title of the album originate?
The title of the album is a title of one of the songs. There’s a lot of material throughout the album about knowingly getting yourself in situations you know you should avoid. It just made sense to call it that.
Can you draw comparisons between The Fire Plays with Someone to Tell and what would you say has your songwriting evolved between albums?
The only similarity I find with those two albums is the use of ambient guitar to add layers to the music. Gerry Leonard and David Rolfe are both great producers whose main instrument is guitar, and they both wound up playing quite a bit on those albums. As far as the songwriting and performance approach, it’s totally different. Ten years ago I didn’t know what I wanted to sound like. You just get more comfortable being yourself in your writing if you do it enough.
Of all your albums, which would you revisit or is there a song you would like to re-record?
There’s a few but if it had to be one probably The Break-In, and more specifically, “I’ve Got You”. The label I was on at the time heavily influenced the recording process on that one. Those kinds of things make it tough to listen to for me even though I like the song.
What is the most challenging part of the recording process
The most challenging thing is to know when to stop adding things.
Who are some artists that have influenced your music and why?
Ron Sexsmith, Patti Griffin, Paul Mccartney – either the songs, vocals, arrangements, or at times just the vibe they bring on their recordings.
What does being brave mean to you?
Writing a song I don’t wanna write
What’s next for you in 2013?
A headlining tour in Europe, a supporting run with Judy Collins in April in the northwest, and a lot of recording plans. Might take a short break somewhere in there to breathe.
Where can my readers find you online?